Name in the Game

I’m watching an NBA game: Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets. Playing for the Rockets is a chap by the name of Omer Asik. Last season his surname was pronounced ‘ash-sheek’*. This year it appears to be ‘ass-sick’.

This brings, to the brainbits, two questions. One, how do commentators not know the correct way to pronounce a name? Isn’t it as easy as someone just asking the player how to say it? All the data these commentators get on the fly from screens and through earpieces, can’t they have someone write these names out phonetically or tell them the proper pronunciation?

The second, less obvious question: why does the pronunciation only change between seasons? Take the Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao. When I first discovered him catching passes from Lebron James, he was Anderson ‘Var-aes-yo’. The next season, oddly, he became ‘Var-ae-jon’. Then he became ‘Varas-yow’, which seems to be the default now.

This doesn’t seem to be one commentator. Regardless of analyst or network, the pronunciations seem to change every year, as if the NBA provides its own pronunciation rules are the start of every season, but changes some of them every summer.

With all the research that happens behind the scenes of every NBA game, you’d think some of it would involveĀ learning how to say names correctly.

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*I’d like to apologise for not knowing the phonetic alphabet

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